Aviation Litigation

According to the old adage, flexibility is the key to airpower. The same idea applies to legal power as well. Businesses in the aviation sector need lawyers with the knowledge and experience to find creative solutions that defy convention. Cozen O’Connor’s aviation litigators are consistently successful in handling complex cases involving catastrophic losses and significant exposures by devising innovative approaches.

Cozen O’Connor represents aviation and aerospace insurers and reinsurers, aviation products and component part manufacturers, carriers, airports, repair facilities, and manufacturers and operators of unmanned aircraft systems (drones) in all manner of dispute and investigation. The firm handles wrongful death and survival actions, personal injury claims, antitrust and consumer protection claims, product liability and recalls, property damage claims, liability claims, coverage issues, air accidents, and other claims under the Montreal and Warsaw conventions.

The firm also assists aviation clients in state and federal government investigations. Firm attorneys regularly represent subjects and third parties in federal investigations of all types, including mergers, civil antitrust, consumer protection, and criminal. The firm has a dedicated State Attorney Generals practice that defends clients against state consumer protection, deceptive trade, and advertising claims.

When facing high-stakes litigation, businesses need experienced trial lawyers who know how to get results in the courtroom and aggressively negotiate favorable settlements. Cozen O’Connor attorneys have more collective trial experience than any other comparably sized firm. We have successfully tried aviation cases valued at hundreds of millions of dollars to verdict and served as national coordinating counsel for multinational companies. The firm’s well-deserved reputation as a trial powerhouse provides leverage in negotiations and meditations; adversaries know we settle to serve our client’s interests, not to avoid court.

The firm’s reach is global. With offices in 29 cities across North America and in Europe, and extensive experience working in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa, Cozen O’Connor is ready to respond wherever and whenever the need arises. Cozen O’Connor’s Rapid Response Team can be on site within 24 hours to advise on investigations, emergency response protocols, family support services, cleanup, and public relations. Moving forward, our attorneys can handle all ongoing investigations, inquiries, or resulting litigations.

In managing major aviation litigation, Cozen O’Connor carefully tailors its defense strategy to each client and each situation. Rather than providing cookie-cutter answers and stock briefs, Cozen O’Connor adds value by being creative, adaptive, and persuasive. Cozen O’Connor also adds value by staffing with proportionality and employing seasoned attorneys who provide cost-effective service.

Members of the aviation litigation practice includes fellows in the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers, American Board of Trial Advocates, and American Bar Foundation; a former chair of the American Bar Association's Tort and Insurance Practices Aviation & Space Committee; a past president of the Insurance Law Commission of the Union Internationale des Avocats; a special assistant U.S. Attorney; former Air Force Judge Advocate; and former military pilots with thousands of flight hours. 


The Efficacy of Preemption Defenses in Airline COVID-19 Litigation [Alert]

July 27, 2020

William H. Walsh and Anusha E. Jones discuss potential preemption defenses that could be available to airlines and their potential effectiveness.

DOT/HHS/DHS Issue Joint COVID-19 Guidance to Airlines and Airports

July 06, 2020

On July 2, 2020, the U.S. Departments of Transportation, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services issued a joint guidance document titled “Runway to Recovery- the United States Framework for Airlines and Airports to Mitigate the Public Health Risks of Coronavirus.”

DOT Issues New Guidance Regarding Airlines’ Obligation to Provide Passenger Refunds [Alert]

May 13, 2020

Rachel Welford discusses DOT's guidance for airline carriers operating flights to, from, and within in the United States on when it is necessary to offer ticketed passengers refunds.

What's in Store for the Cruise Industry? [CNN]

May 01, 2020

Chris Kende is quoted in a CNN article titled, "What's in Store for the Cruise Industry" discussing the impact of COVID-19 on the cruise industry.

Rolls-Royce Petitions U.S. Supreme Court to Block Discovery in Aid of International Arbitration [Alert]

April 28, 2020

David Loh and Chris Raleigh discuss the possibility of the U.S. Supreme Court permitting U.S. discovery in international private arbitration and what that means for foreign companies doing business in the United States.

DOT to Impose Minimum Air Service Obligations For U.S. Carriers Receiving CARES Act Financial Assistance [Alert]

March 31, 2020

David Heffernan and Rachel Welford discuss DOT's proposed parameters for implementing the authority granted it by the CARES Act to maintain scheduled air transportation to U.S. points.

Turbulence Ahead for the Airlines Under the Montreal Convention? [Alert]

March 23, 2020

Chris Kende discusses liability issues airline carriers may be facing under the Montreal Convention following the coronavirus pandemic.

Reflections on Boeing’s Exposure Following the 737 MAX Crashes [Alert]

April 17, 2019

Chris Kende, Bruce Maffeo and Dina Moussa, discuss the civil and criminal liability Boeing could face following the two crashes and subsequent grounding of the brand new Boeing 737 MAX.

Federal Court in Massachusetts Upholds $2.2 Million Verdict for Claim for PTSD Against Boeing [Aeronautics Committee Newsletter]

March 01, 2019

Christopher Kende (Insurance, New York) contributed an article to the March edition of the New York City Bar’s Aeronautics Committee Newsletter discussing a federal court case in which an individual was awarded $2.2 million in damages after suffering from PTSD, major depressive disorder and decompression sickness as a result of a decompression incident onboard an aircraft manufactured by Boeing.

California Federal Court Declares Drones are Aircraft [Alert]

January 18, 2019

William Walsh discusses the decision in Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company v. Hollycal Production, Inc and what it could mean for the future of drone law.

The Safety and Comfort of Your Airline Seat [Forbes]

January 07, 2019

David Heffernan, a member of the firm's Transportation & Trade Group and co-chair of the Aviation Industry Team, authored "The Safety and Comfort of Your Airline Seat" for Forbes.

May 2018 Update on Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions [Aviation Regulatory Update]

May 04, 2018

This edition of the Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update discusses the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of a five-year Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill, the FAA’s Airworthiness Directives requiring inspections of fan blades on CFM56-7B model engines as a result of last month’s Southwest Airlines engine incident, the Department of Transportation’s recent award of frequencies for new U.S.-Cuba air service, new DOT requirements for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)/drones to obtain DOT economic authority in the form of a Part 298 air taxi registration in order for commercial UAS/drone operators to operate air transportation services for hire, the Department of Homeland Security’s increase in the amount of civil penalties imposed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Government Accountability Office’s implementation of new electronic filing requirements for bid protests, and the latest DOT and FAA enforcement actions.

Perspectives: Commercial Use of Drones Could be Grounded by Costs [Business Insurance]

January 02, 2017

William Walsh, co-chair of the Aviation Industry Team, discusses the significant tension between the Federal Aviation Administration regulation for commercial drones and any conceivable economic model of a profitable retail drone delivery operation.

AOPA Asks Supreme Court to Review Sikkelee Decision; Urges FAA Preemption [Aviation Alert]

October 25, 2016

Rachael Wallace and Robert Bowman discuss AOPA's amicus curiae brief that asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which allowed states to apply state standards of care to the field of aviation product liability.

September 2016 Update on Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions

September 23, 2016

This edition of the Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update discusses DOT’s selection of carriers to operate U.S.-Havana and U.S.-Tokyo (Haneda) air services, the FAA’s implementation of its small unmanned aircraft systems/drone rules, new increases in DOT civil penalty amounts, the FAA’s draft PFC order, GAO’s reporting on FAA oversight of repair stations, and the latest DOT and FAA enforcement actions.

August 2016 Update on Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions

August 08, 2016

This edition of the Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update discusses new FAA reauthorization legislation, DOT awards for U.S. carrier scheduled service to Cuba, DOT’s decision to address consumer notification requirements regarding changes in airline frequent flyer program rules, and more.

December 2015 Update on Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions

December 21, 2015

This edition of the Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update includes looming revisions to the Visa Waiver Program, DOT’s plans for an additional round of new regulations on disabled passenger-related issues, the FAA’s new registration requirements for small unmanned aircraft systems/drones, DOT guidance on airline liability for damage to components of checked baggage, Congressional bills on Export-Import Bank reauthorization, pilots’ rights, and Visa Waiver Program Changes, the status of FAA reauthorization legislation, the FAA’s updated airspace obstruction standards, and recent FAA enforcement actions.

November 2015 Update on Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions

November 13, 2015

This edition discusses the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against United Airlines and Delta Air Lines seeking to block the carriers’ proposed slot swap at Newark, DOT’s ban on electronic smoking devices in checked baggage, DOT and the FAA’s planned registration requirements for drones/unmanned aircraft, the FAA’s new safety compliance philosophy, new FAA rules on production certificates and approvals, APHIS final rules on agricultural quarantine and inspection services, a Congressional hearing on TSA security oversight, and the latest DOT and FAA enforcement actions.

September 2015 Update on Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions

October 02, 2015

This edition reports on Congress’s six-month extension of FAA’s reauthorization; new U.S. Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreements with the European Union and Canada; the FAA’s final rule on the disclosure of aircraft seat dimensions to facilitate the use of child safety seats on airplanes; DOT’s latest small community air service development grants; the Treasury and Commerce Departments’ new amendments to the Cuba Sanctions Regulations.

August 2015 Update on Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions

August 24, 2015

DOT’s launch of an investigation of alleged price gouging by airlines following Amtrak train service disruption in the Northeast Corridor, the agency’s continuing review of the Delta/Aeromexico antitrust immunity application, DOT’s and the Departments of State and Commerce’s ongoing review of subsidy allegations brought by the three largest U.S. carriers against Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways.

Understanding the DOJ's Airlines Antitrust Investigation [Corporate Counsel]

August 03, 2015

Barry Boss, Stephen Miller, and Rebecca Brodey discuss the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division’s latest investigation – airline capacity restrictions.

July 2015 Update on Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions [Aviation Regulatory Update]

July 02, 2015

An update on the multi-agency review of U.S. carrier allegations of subsidy against three gulf carriers, recent applications for antitrust immunity for airline alliances, EPA’s initial action to address greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, DHS amendments to the ESTA program and planned expansion of customs and immigration preclearance facilities at additional foreign airports, Congressional hearings on FAA reauthorization, aviation security and drone operations, and recent DOT and FAA enforcement actions.

DOT Revises Its “Mistaken Fares” Enforcement Policy [Aviation Regulatory Update]

May 12, 2015

Until now, the DOT’ has generally required airlines honor fares once a consumer purchased the fare, even if such fares were inadvertently offered for sale. Now, the DOT will not enforce the prohibition against airlines increasing fares post-purchase when such fares are mistakenly offered.

April 2015 Update on Significant DOT, FAA & Other Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions [Aviation Regulatory Update]

April 15, 2015

This edition of the Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update includes an overview of the FAA’s new contract maintenance rules, DOT and FAA notices on flight prohibitions in conflict zones, the latest news on the integration of unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System, Congressional hearings on FAA reauthorization and air traffic control modernization, and DOT and FAA enforcement actions.

FAA Restores India to Category 1 Under International Aviation Safety Assessment Program [Aviation Regulatory Update]

April 08, 2015

The IASA Category 1 rating means that India’s civil aviation authority once again fully complies with the safety oversight standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations’ technical agency for international civil aviation. India had previously been rated by the FAA as a Category 1 country in August 1997 but was downgraded to Category 2 in 2012 after an FAA audit identified certain safety oversight deficiencies.

Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions [Aviation Regulatory Update]

February 24, 2015

This edition of the Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update includes an overview of the FAA’s long-awaited proposed rule on small unmanned aircraft commercial operations, the White House’s statement on privacy issues relating to unmanned aircraft, recent Congressional hearings on FAA reauthorization and unmanned aircraft, the DOT Inspector General’s review of DOT’s tarmac delay rule, DOT and ITC actions with regard to U.S.-Cuba air travel, DOT’s clarification of carriers’ animal incident reporting requirements, and DOT and FAA enforcement actions.

Update on Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions [Aviation Regulatory Update]

January 20, 2015

Highlights of this edition of the Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update include the FAA’s recent rulemakings involving New York area airport slots and safety management systems for U.S. Part 121 air carriers, developments relating to unmanned aircraft, and DOT and FAA enforcement actions.

U.S. Government Provides Guidance Regarding Certain Temporary Aviation-Related Iran Sanctions Relief [Transportation & Logistics Alert]

December 15, 2014

As previously advised, on January 20, 2014, Iran and the group of nations known as the P5+1 (United States, U.K., France, Russia, China and Germany) implemented a Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) whereby Iran agreed to accept limits on its nuclear program in exchange for limited, temporary relief from economic sanctions. The JPOA implementation was to last six months, during which time the parties would seek to negotiate a comprehensive agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program. On November 24, 2014, Iran and the P5+1 countries extended the JPOA for a second time, thus leaving in place through June 30, 2015 the limited sanctions relief provided under the original JPOA while the parties continue negotiations.

FAA Regulatory Revisions, DOT and FAA Enforcement Actions, Other Aviation-Related Regulatory Matters [Aviation Regulatory Update]

December 11, 2014

This edition of the Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update provides an overview of recent FAA regulatory initiatives involving crew pairing, alcohol and drug testing rates, the use of aviation fuel taxes by airports and state governments, airport environmental grants, and de-icing standards for new aircraft. We also provide an update on recent DOT and FAA enforcement actions, plus recent developments in the Pirker v. Huerta case involving the operation of small unmanned aircraft. Additionally, Congress is beginning its deliberations regarding next year’s FAA reauthorization. Finally, two new lawsuits were filed challenging certain airports’ implementation of labor-related rules that airlines and airport service providers contend are preempted under federal law.

DOT Passenger Protection Rulemaking #3, NextGen, Ebola, Drones, Enforcement Actions, Security Fees [Aviation Regulatory Update]

October 27, 2014

This edition of the Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update covers comments filed on DOT’s Passenger Protection Rulemaking #3, the FAA’s continuing plans for NextGen implementation, federal agency statements on the Ebola virus and its potential impact on air travel, the expansion of commercial drone operations, new enforcement actions by DOT and the FAA, and changes to regulations and policies affecting the aviation industry.

DOT Action on NAI’s Application to Serve the U.S., the Continuing Focus on Ancillary Service Fees [Aviation Regulatory Update]

September 18, 2014

This edition of the Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update covers DOT action on Norwegian Air International’s application to serve the U.S., Congress’ and DOT’s continuing focus on airline ancillary service fees and consumer protection, new enforcement actions by DOT and FAA, and proposed changes to federal agency regulations and policies affecting the aviation industry.

Aviation Regulation in the United States [American Bar Association]

September 08, 2014

David Heffernan, a member of the Aviation Practice Group at Cozen O’Connor, co-edited the recently published American Bar Association (ABA) book “Aviation Regulation in the United States.

An Update on Aviation Regulatory Matters Involving DOT, FAA, TSA, Customs and Other Federal Agencies [Aviation Regulatory Update]

August 22, 2014

The August edition of the Aviation Regulatory Update including updates on extension of comments periods, new enforcement actions, the FAA's legal interpretation prohibiting universities from using their Certificate of Waiver or Authorization to train students to fly drones, new regulations for transportation of lithium cells and batteries, and more.

Congress Considers Transportation Appropriations Provisions, Other Legislation Impacting Aviation [Aviation Regulatory Update]

July 21, 2014

On Capitol Hill, legislators are working to pass a Transportation Appropriations bill that will fund aviation programs during the 2015 fiscal year. As part of the appropriations process, members of the House and Senate are looking at a number of amendments that impact aviation. This includes continuing debate on limiting the Department of Transportation’s ability to approve the controversial application filed by Norwegian Airlines International (reported in last month’s Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update) to operate to the United States and whether to allow Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport to impose a nighttime curfew on airline operations.

DOT Releases Passenger Protection Rulemaking #3; FAA Considers Commercial Drone Operations; Other Regulatory Issues [Aviation Regulatory Update]

June 16, 2014

It has been a busy month at the Department of Transportation, with the DOT finally releasing its long-anticipated proposed rule on Transparency of Airline Ancillary Fees and Other Consumer Protection Issues, better known as Passenger Protection Rulemaking #3 or PP3. DOT also issued a Show Cause Order tentatively approving IATA’s Resolution 787 to establish a “new distribution capability” for air travel distribution. On Capitol Hill, the House passed the 2015 Transportation Appropriations bill, including an amendment that could have the effect of preventing DOT from approving the controversial application filed by Norwegian Airlines International for authority to begin operating to the United States.

Spring 2010 [Business Law Observer]

April 19, 2010

This Spring edition highlights many pertinent issues confronting a business owner in the 21st century. In the wake of unprecedented economic trouble, our lead article discusses how to protect your business from preference exposure when a customer goes bankrupt.

Commentary: The Flight to Access [Risk & Insurance]

April 01, 2009

Commentary: The Flight to Access - Risk & Insurance - With more and more frequency, possibly due to personnel cutbacks and more attention focused on legitimate security concerns,
courts are seeing actions brought by disabled
passengers alleging discrimination,
exacerbation of a physical injury, mental
anguish and distress, and even punitive
damages as a result of what has been
perceived as either the inability or
unwillingness to deal with the specific needs
of disabled passengers.

Flying Through Squabbles of the Turbulent [Risk and Insurance Online]

January 01, 2009

Flying Through Squabbles of the Turbulent - Risk and Insurance Online -

The Admissibility of Other Incidents in Aviation Products Liability Cases [International Association of Defense Counsel]

November 01, 2008

The Admissibility of Other Incidents in Aviation Products Liability Cases - International Association of Defense Counsel - Typical law school evidence courses include only a cursory examination of the admissibility of “other acts”,1 and even then, it is usually in the context of criminal cases under FED R. EVID. 404(b). And, indeed, the federal rules and case law are well-established when dealing with the government’s efforts to use evidence of other acts against a criminal defendant. But in civil matters—products liability cases in particular—the rules are less clear. So it is

International Litigation: The U.S. Jurisdiction To Prescribe and the Doctrine Of Forum Non Conveniens [The Federal Lawyer]

October 01, 2008

International Litigation: The U.S. Jurisdiction To Prescribe and the Doctrine Of Forum Non Conveniens - The Federal Lawyer - Since the 1945 decision by Judge learned hand in United States v. Aluminum Co. of America (colloquially known as the "Alcoa" case), it has become well-established law that the Sherman Antitrust Act-legislation that was adopted over 100 years ago-applies to and prohibits conduct in foreign countries if that conduct has an illegal "effect" in the United States. The very important issue today is the extent to which the

Events & Seminars

Past Events

Aircraft Leasing: A Guide to Successful Negotiations

June 08, 2017 - Washington, D.C.

2016 London Market USA Study Tour

July 10, 2016 - Chicago, IL

2016 RIMS Annual Conference

April 10, 2016 - San Diego, CA

ACI 2016 Risk Management Conference

January 13, 2016 - Nashville, TN

ABA Forum on Air & Space Law 2015 Annual Meeting

September 17, 2015 - Marina del Rey, CA

ABA Forum on Air & Space Law Update Conference 2015

February 20, 2015 - Washington, DC

ACI's 16th Annual Risk Management Conference

January 15, 2015 - San Diego, CA

IATA Legal Symposium 2014: Aviation Law: Upfront and Center

February 23, 2014 - San Francisco, CA

Legal Aspects of Aircraft Lease Agreements

December 10, 2010 - Washington, D.C.

PBI Presents: 14th Annual Insurance Institute

April 12, 2010 - Philadelphia, PA

In The News

US Regulator Grants Exemption for Drone Flight During Lockdown [Financial Times]

April 22, 2020

Bill Walsh was quoted in an article in the Financial Times titled, "US Regulator Grants Exemption for Drone Flight During Lockdown." This article discusses a new coronavirus-related waiver for drone flight which allows an oil and gas company in Houston, TX to use unmanned aircraft instead of humans to inspect its facilities while the staff remains in lockdown.

57 Cozen O’Connor Lawyers, 16 Practices Earn Top Recognition in Chambers USA 2019 Guide

April 25, 2019

Chambers USA, the leading annual guide to the top lawyers and law firms in the USA, has ranked 57 Cozen O’Connor lawyers as leaders in their respective fields in the Guide’s 2019 edition.

Pilots Association Wants SCOTUS Review of Airplane Product Liability Issue

November 21, 2016

Robert Bowman and Rachael Wallace comment on the recent request of an aircraft pilots association of the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that allowed states to impose their own safety standards in place of federal law.

William Walsh Discusses the Risks of Drones During the Holiday Buying Season in Business Insurance

December 06, 2015

Drone sales that could top 1 million this holiday season have lawyers warming up for a wave of claims, with differing views on the insurance industry's readiness for the risks that commercial and consumer drone operators will bring.


Christopher B. Kende



(212) 908-1242

William H. Walsh



(206) 224-1296


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